Friday Interviews On Saturday featuring Xander Marro! July 27, 2013 16:31
Well, hello everyone! Happy sunny Saturday! I know it's traditionally been Friday Interviews, but I didn't think it would hurt to have a Friday Interview on Saturday. This week, I got in contact with our current gallery artist Xander Marro whose puppets and prints comprise the show she calls The Foot Apple Parade. Xander is the co founder of Dirt Palace, a woman centered arts co-operative in Providence's Olneyville neighborhood. She has traveled as a performer, exhibited her work in multiple galleries, constructed her installations in museums such as the deCordova and RISD, and has worked as Managing Director at AS220, a non-profit community arts center here in Providence. Now, enough exposition!
• Introduce yourself. Who are you, where are you from, what do you make?
Xander Marro…from Providence. I lived other places as a kid (DC, Long Island) but I’ve lived here for 20 years (which is about twice as long as I’ve lived anywhere else) so I consider myself from here at this point. I make puppet shows, prints, movies, zines, installations, quilts, costumes etc.
• How did you get involved with Craftland?
I’ve had a few different things for sale at Craftland over the years, but haven’t always had such an inventory of stuff that’s hypothetically sellable as I do these days…Jen and Deb and I go really far back. I still have a suitcase that I inherited from Jen when she moved out of town in like 1999 (and then thankfully she moved back!). We all used to work together at a “crafty” gift store on Thayer St, I think it was around 1996. I also grew up in a craft/retail/gift context. My mom ran a gift store where she sold everything from dollhouses & pot-pouri to decoys, and taught craft classes in the basement. It was a pretty inspiring place to grow up. But in that way where kids just don’t want to do exactly what their parents have done, no matter how cool it is, I’ve tried to locate/conceptualize my work in a somewhat different context. However, I’ve undeniably been influenced by that experience, even if just in the sense that small business is in my blood and hot glue secretly runs in my veins.
• Why the Foot Apple Parade? Where did the story come from? What about it inspired you to make a whole show out of it?
The Foot Apple Parade is an annual event that I learned of from the legendary San Francisco co(n)median team Coil and Sharpe. The "Foot Apple”, as it’s name would suggest, is a variety of apple that grows with legs dangling beneath their cores. The apples for some reason can not ripen in the same location where they grow, so they march in great herds to get to the place where the sun will coax them into their rightful maturity. Along the way they stop at a bar, which is actually a worm saloon run by snakes, or possibly worms dressed up like snakes. It’s difficult to say. And suddenly we are in the Garden of Eden, except for that the sin is not original, but rather cheep imitation, and the trunk of the tree of knowledge is not bark covered and made of wood, but actually fleshy legs leading up to a blemished ass and made of paper mache and time has been made to run in all kinds of cockamamie directions.
Coil and Sharpe were a duo who would go around and do man on the street interviews for radio in the 60’s that got REALLY WEIRD. The first time that I heard the Foot Apple piece I was in the passenger seat of a van & by the end of it I was literally on the floor of the van laughing so hard, in total awe. The second time I heard it I had major visual hallucinations (not drug inspired) and knew that I wanted to summon the Foot Apple Parade into tangible reality. I also have long had a (until now) unrequited love affair with anthropomorphized food. Anthropomorphized anything really. I believe that in some way all matter is alive, and faces on things not generally considered alive are both funny and a reminder of all of the history, and energy and potential in “stuff”. A lot of my work is about our spiritual relationships to material, which is like this catch 22 because spirituality is generally considered to be the opposite of materiality (or pertaining only to those things commonly considered to have souls). Anyway…I got into this whole narrative of the Foot Apples.
• What originally drew you to puppetry and performance? Did you always aspire to be an artist "Self Employed by an Asshole"?
I think actually the puppetry/performance thing comes from the same stuff that I was talking about in response to the last question…in terms of giving life to things that supposedly don’t have life; animating non living things; the whole spectrum of how “things” are bestowed with energies, characteristics etc. A lot of my work is very tangible and specifically about materiality, so it’s a nice balance for me to do work that is fairly ephemeral.
In terms of being a self-employed artist…that’s kind of a two part question. Yes, to always wanting to be an artist in some form. I remember in the year 1980 (age 5) predicting that in the year 2000 I would be an art teacher and a mom. I was correct in predicting that I would be an art teacher, wrong about the mom part. I only lasted a couple of years as an art teacher, would love to teach again some day, but am pretty disillusioned with the state of education these days. Yes also to loving working for myself, and I love the kind of work that I’m doing these days, but I love work relationships & sometimes miss the comradery that came with different jobs I’ve had. I really love doing the project based client work that I do, sometimes more than the fine art that I sneak in, in the time between projects. I don’t love the precariousness of the freelance rollercoaster, but I think I’ve finally (sort of) managed to get used to the ride.
• What do you do when you're not creating masterworks?
I like to have my hands in my projects for 10 or so hours a day, and then there’s the 2-3 hours of “office” work that always seem to pile up, so to be totally honest, I don’t actually do that much else! But I do a lot of things while I’m working. I listen to a lot of music and audio books. Big fan of young adult fantasy fiction. I eat popcorn almost everyday. Luckily I have found (and share a studio with) friends with the same obsessive tendencies, so often work is working along side of other like minded artists. I try to garden in the summer, and sprout things and rearrange houseplants in the winter. Make fires, chop wood, collect kindling. I try to feed my brain a steady stream of new art/music/books.
You can see Xander's work on her website www.xandermarro.com or come on down to Craftland and check out The Foot Apple Parade live and in person.